By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Presenting the 13th annual Phoenix Muzzle Awards

Just in time for your Fourth of July celebrations, we present the 13th annual Muzzle Awards, published in the Phoenix newspapers of Boston, Portland and Providence.

Starting in 1998, I’ve been rounding up enemies of free speech and personal liberties in New England, based on news reports over the previous year. For the past several years my friend and occasional collaborator Harvey Silverglate has been writing a sidebar about free speech and the lack thereof on campus.

Yes, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department makes the list for his failure to understand that you shouldn’t arrest someone who’s done nothing wrong other than mouth off to you in his own home. So does former Newton mayor David Cohen, who should not seek a second career as a newspaper editor. So does the MBTA, a hardy perennial.

But my personal favorite is the Portland Press Herald, whose editorial page came out in support of a proposal by the Falmouth Town Council to clamp down on the right of residents to speak out at council meetings. When the council itself unanimously voted against the proposal several weeks later, citing free-speech concerns, the newspaper found itself in the bizarre position of showing less regard for the First Amendment than elected officials.

On Friday at 9 p.m., I’ll join Dan Rea of WBZ Radio (AM 1030) to talk about the Muzzles and anything else that might come up.

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  1. Neil Sagan

    I’m all for the cause Dan, I just think your graphic is horribly exploitative in that it projects women as objects that you can darn like a sock.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Neil: Not to criticize the graphic — I rather like it — but “my” graphic? No. I didn’t even see it until the story was published.

  2. Neil Sagan

    Dan, Not to worry! It’s sexy graphic female mutilation.

    And of course, it’s not your graphic, its just the graphic that accompanies your muzzle award article which would have no place in the paper but for said article. No, I know you did not pick it, and actually, I’m just having a little fun with it and you. It doesn’t offend me but I can see as how, if not taken strictly metaphorically, it could be considered offensive.

  3. Steve Stein

    I think you need to reopen these awards – this behavior by the US and local governments, protecting BP from unfavorable publicity, blows all your examples out of the water.

    (Oh, and count me among the “creeped out” by the picture that accompanies this article.)

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: The Muzzles are New England-only, unfortunately. I was dying to give one to Apple following the Mark Fiore incident, but couldn’t find a New England angle.

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